Dale Benkenstein slammed his under-performing Hampshire players and warned them: You are playing for your futures.
The Hampshire first-team coach offered a damning assessment of the team after seeing them battered by Worcestershire on day two of their Championship clash at the Ageas Bowl.
With Hampshire bowled out for a below-par 222 with another abject batting display, the visitors then eased to 221 for three to put themselves in total command before bad light ended the day with eight overs remaining.
There have not been many lows for the South African during his itenure after guiding the team to the division two title in his first season at the helm.
But Benkenstein revealed it was the worst he had seen his side play since his arrival.
He is now looking at ways to turn the tide of what could turn into a miserable season.
‘I don’t think we have played that poorly all round since I have been here,’ he said.
‘It’s probably my toughest day as a coach.
‘You have to give credit to Worcester because they really stuck to their game plans.
‘It does show that when you put the ball in the right place for long enough, it pays off.
‘But I think we have been really poor and I am not used to this from this team or from any team.
‘You can talk about things but eventually, talk is cheap.
‘If these guys can’t do the job, then we’ve got to find people who can.’
Hampshire don’t have too many options in terms of freshening up the side but Jackson Bird may finally be available for next week’s Championship clash at Sussex.
But Benkenstein did not rule out going beyond the current playing staff to find new recruits.
He said: ‘We have talked about a lot of things but the talking is pretty much finished now.
‘It’s nice to have Jackson Bird available but I need to sit down and work out where we go from here.
‘You can bring loan players in and we will sit and look at those things at the end of the match.
‘Sometimes it helps people when they realise they are playing for their place.
‘With the bat and the ball, we haven’t stuck to the basics and it shows on the scoreboard.
‘This has crept in and it is becoming the norm. That is worrying.
‘You cannot afford to do that at this level.’
Hampshire were second best in all departments and their day went from bad to worse when they also picked up what could be two nasty injuries with wicketkeeper Adam Wheater and Will Smith suffering finger injuries.
Benkenstein said: ‘Things got worse with two of our batters going off with possible broken fingers.
‘They are both having X-rays but Will is a bit more positive.
‘Adam broke the same finger last year and is feeling the same as he did then so we have got Lewis McManus keeping for us on day three.’